When it comes to noise, the Barracuda 18XL finally breaks tradition with its predecessors. Its lighter actuator seems to result in seek noises that are much less obtrusive than older units such as the Cuda 18LP or 9LP. Idle noise is also undetectable over the power supply's noise.
This drive uses significantly less power than any previous Barracuda model offering the same capacity and it shows. Even outside a drive cooler, the drive runs only warm to the touch in our mid-tower-based new testbed. In our old testbed, featuring its monstrous case, the drive can only be called "cool."
Reviews of products such as the Barracuda 18XL highlight the interesting dichotomy that we face as we continue to phase in our new methodologies. If testing were limited to our old testbed, the Atlas V would prove to be a significantly better performing drive than the 18XL. Even on the new testbed, WinBench 99 continues to showcase the Atlas V's prowess. It is, however, in the area of IOMeter results that the Barracuda aggressively fights back, posting higher results in virtually all scenarios. In the end it's a bit of a tough choice, but our heavy weighting of IOMeter leads us to declare the Barracuda 18XL the champion. It's too bad that the 'Cuda doesn't quite live up to its low specified seek time; if such was the case, the victory would have likely been more decisive.